Of all the lessons you’ll learn at college, one of the most important is how to set a budget and stick to it. This is easier said than done – especially when university life is non-stop and there are a myriad of expenses flying your way, from books to food to social events, housing and more. It’s easier to just buy what you want and let your future self deal with the consequences, but as you’ve probably already figured out, that’s just not a sustainable plan.
This year, kick-off your back to school preparations by becoming a budgeting master. Here are five tips to get you started, based around five major expenses every student faces.
Don’t just pay and go – review your tuition bill carefully to ensure that all financial aid is accounted for and that there aren’t any unnecessary charges. For example, if you’re still on your parents’ health insurance plan, you shouldn’t be paying extra on your tuition bill. Then, if you’re using a credit card to pay all or part of your tuition, check out an HUECU student credit card with great perks and rewards to lower your bills even more.
Every student knows that the cost of food can really add up. This year, stay on budget by limiting how often you eat out. Cooking at home is fun and healthy, and it shaves a huge amount from your monthly bills. If you’re not much of a chef, check out online recipes links designed especially for students; and if you don’t have a whole lot of time, try cooking a huge meal every Sunday and packaging it up to eat for lunch throughout the week.
Once you’ve signed a contract, it’s not really possible to reduce your monthly rent. But what you can do is limit other household expenditures. Save on electricity bills by installing LED light bulbs, unplugging unused electronic devices, using timers and smart power strips, and air drying rather than tumble drying laundry. If you’ve got the space, you can even use your home to grow herbs and vegetables, in order to reduce your grocery bill.
Students spend around $1,200 per year on books and supplies, but there are plenty of ways to get all the learning materials you need, for less. Always look for textbooks online or at a used bookstore, and ask your professor if you’ll be alright purchasing an older edition. When taking a class with friends, see if you can agree to share one textbook and split the cost. And, don’t forget about the library – many books can be checked out as needed, for no cost at all.
All work and no play makes college a rather dull experience! You can have fun and not bust your budget by following a few simple rules. Eat a good meal at home before you go out. Look online for free activities in your area – many museums and theaters offer free events for students. Finally, remove the threat of temptation by only taking along a certain amount of cash, and leaving your credit card at home.
Wherever you are on your journey to becoming a budgeting boss, HUECU can help you start off your school year on the right foot. By attending a financial workshop, getting one-on-one counseling or opening a College Life account, HUECU has the resources to help you reach your financial goals.
Our College Life account features no monthly fee, no minimum balance, free access to ATMs across the nation and many more exclusive perks.